( These pages reflect the views and practice of Keith Bibby
and are not intended to describe the work of other practitioners
THE AIMS OF COUPLES THERAPY
WHAT CAN COUPLES THERAPY OFFER ?
HOW DOES COUPLES THERAPY HELP ?
Difficulties in relationships are entirely normal; when these reach sufficient proportion
the need for help is as normal as the need to visit a doctor or a dentist.
It often takes skilful enquiry from a trained professional to test and identify what
is really going on. Also there are fundamental principles and ways of behaving which
can be recognised in successful relationships. These can be learned and applied.
On the other hand this is not a formulaic or band-aid approach. What is happening
and exactly what is to be done and in what way needs to be worked on specifically
for each relationship.
In the emotional maelstrom of mutual aggravation people are generally unable to
comprehend the lightning fast processes that occur in their conflicts - nor the
range or subtle negative influences that lead to disastrous escalation. Sometimes,
too, from what has every appearance of an untroubled surface there can be unexpected
and un-comprehended outbreaks expressing a quiet desperation which has been held
Professional help is often needed to help you recognise, disentangle and simplify
the complex web of actions and reactions and to identify the underlying themes and
realities. This is not an easy thing to do. It requires very careful observation
and skilful exploration - thorough enough to penetrate to the roots of the difficulty
but not so long-winded as to exceed the patience of the participants.
The first aim is to arrive as quickly as possible at measures which the couple can
implement at least to maintain the situation and prevent things from deteriorating
You and your partner can then, in the course of our exchanges and in the observations
that you learn to make in your daily lives, begin to identify your own ' runaway
processes ' and the feelings that accompany these.
You learn to separate out the real from the imagined, to attach real meanings to
what happens and through new understandings to discover how you can achieve things
in a different way.
You help each other to reveal and learn about each other's process. You become sympathetic
to the difficulties each of you has carried - and begin to recognise how these have
played a part in your joint runaway processes.
You find that you can help each other to recognise when such a disruptive pattern
is beginning to run. You realise that, with your new skills you can STOP disruptive
processes ! One or other of you can recognise a choice point and act differently
- and help your partner make a positive choice too !
If you aim to stay together and improve your relationship ...
You can begin to experience successful process and observe how, by doing the constructive
thing, your sense of your self and your partner and your experience of togetherness
begins to renew and develop.
Repeated success begins to re-build your confidence and trust and your
delight in yourselves and each other.
Progressively these much more productive patterns BECOME A NATURAL PART OF YOU AND
THE WAY YOU LIVE AND RELATE.
If you need to part ... and have children ...
You need to develop ways of negotiating managing and sharing your relationship with
your children which are -
- courteous and effective
- consensual, non-divisive and mutually supportive
- supporting the children’s appreciation of each parent’s role
- emotionally and psychologically supportive
- sustainable, stable and reliable
Whilst one can say it is never too late to learn, learning later generally comes
at a much higher price - both material, psychological and emotional - for all concerned